I am sitting in our hostel in Luxor listening to the evening prayers being broadcast far and wide. I have grown accustomed to it and find the voices soothing. I hear dogs barking and children playing. I smell wood smoke and hear the crackling of a fire in the street below where neighbours have gathered for warmth as they smoke, sip tea and visit for the evening. The sounds of fast speaking Arabic punctuated with laughter drifts up through the open window slats of our room. People in general seem happy here, in what ancient times was called, Thebes. We often hear smiling children shouting “welcome to Luxor” as we pass by. We have been awed by its sights and I feel incredibly grateful to be here.
The west side of the Nile was called the city of death (because the sun sets in the west) and is where all the ancient tombs are. We took the ferry across, rented bicycles for the day and rode a 25 kilometre round trip to the Hatshepsut Temple, the Valley of the Queens, and the Valley of the Kings, which is a grouping of 62 royal tombs (our tickets allowed us into 4 of them). As soon as a Pharaoh came into power he started building the tunnel into what would be his burial chamber where he would be entombed with all of his riches. The belief was that it helped them on their journey to the afterlife. We hired an Egyptologist to guide us through and didn’t regret it. Learning what some of the symbols meant and how to piece together bits of the stories, ceremonies and gods depicted was fascinating. We were blown away by all of it!